With the start of the 2013 NCAA Tournament just days away, Duke will no doubt be employing full concentration on the job that lies ahead.
Having been eliminated from the ACC Tournament in a shock defeat at the hands of Maryland, the Blue Devils will try and win their way through a very difficult Midwest Region as the No. 2 seed, and build upon their already-impressive resume at March Madness.
To do that, they'll likely need their entire squad playing their absolute best—much like they were over the final few games of the regular season.
Star forward Ryan Kelly was back and the Blue Devils scored big wins over both Miami and UNC to give reason to believe they could go all the way in 2013.
And looking at their squad, there's definite reason to still think that.
Mason Plumlee, Seth Curry, Ryan Kelly—all three players have the potential to light up the NCAA field and dominate for the Blue Devils. And at times throughout the tournament, there is little doubt that one (if not all) of them will do just that.
However, once March Madness has finished and the Blue Devils season is over, those three players will likely depart towards the 2013 NBA Draft.
The latest mock draft from NBA Draft.net has all three players mentioned being selected inside the first 60 picks.
And whilst their departure is inevitable given that they're all seniors at the school, Duke will no doubt be severely hampered by not having their presence next season. Especially given the dominance that they displayed at times throughout 2013.
Having said that, their exit from Duke won't be all bad news for the Blue Devils, for it means a new wave of stars will enter the college program. And with one of the hottest names arriving next year in Jabari Parker, the NCAA powerhouse will remain in strong hands throughout 2014.
The Simeon Career Academy senior forward was recently named the Morgan Wootten Male Player of the Year for his performances in 2013, and given the form he's shown throughout his time in Illinois, Duke have a very strong future ahead.
The 6'9" forward has averaged a double-double in his senior high school year, and has built on those numbers even more so in the playoffs. Throughout the Illinois Championships, Parker chalked up an average of 21.7 points per game and had 23 rebounds in his team's final and semifinal wins.
That was after he averaged 18 points and 10 rebounds during the year.
With Kelly, Curry and Plumlee all leaving at the end of the year, Parker's offensive production will be pertinent to the Blue Devils in 2014.
Per game, those three have averaged a combined 45.5 points, 18.0 rebounds and 5.3 assists in 2013. And whilst Parker physically cannot produce those numbers by himself next season, he will take the pressure off not having those guys around.
Duke will still suffer somewhat as a result of their departure next season, and they may very well not be as strong a team as they were this year.
With Parker coming on board, the future is still bright. And once he takes the court for the Blue Devils, fans will very quickly forget all about their former stars—focusing on the new, fresh talent on hand that could lead them to success once more.
Do you think Jabari Parker can be a star for Duke in 2014?
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